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Infineon's Outlook Puts a Damper on Chips

Intel gets a late upgrade, but Infineon's caution is one reason the SOX backs off its high.

Semi-conductor stocks were losing ground after the market shrugged off a late-in-the-game

upgrade of

Intel

(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report

to focus on a milquetoast outlook from

Infineon

(IFX)

, the German DRAM maker.

The moves may signal investors are taking a breather after the benchmark chip index hit a year-to-date high last Friday. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index was off 2.3% from Friday's close of 526, ebbing to 514 in midafternoon trading.

This morning, Infineon, the third-biggest DRAM vendor in the world, said it swung to profitability after nine straight quarters of losses, with net income of 49 million euros.

But the company offered cautious words for chip investors. "I feel that we can talk about a market upswing but we should not become too enthusiastic," said CEO Ulrich Schumacher in a statement.

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The chipmaker said it expects the semiconductor market to see 18% growth in 2004, but noted that it remains cautious because of pricing pressures, according to a report.

Investors bid down Infineon shares 93 cents, or 5.9%, to $14.77.

Intel also lost ground, shedding 13 cents, or 0.4%, to $33.74. The shares saw red despite an upgrade from J.P. Morgan, which forecast that the chip industry is about to see a rash of upward estimate revisions on the back of economic improvement.

In other news, lead global foundry

Taiwan Semiconductor

(TSM) - Get Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Report

posted record monthly sales for the third month in a row, with October revenue up 7.4% from the prior month and up 33.3% from year-ago levels. The company chalked up the strength to preholiday sales, especially for consumer and communications products.

Meanwhile, fellow Taiwanese foundry

United Microelectronics

(UMC) - Get United Microelectronics Corp. Report

reported October sales up 1.9% from the prior month and 27.2% from last year.

TSM shares slipped 53 cents, or 4.6%, to $10.89, while UMC was off 33 cents, or 5.9%, to $5.29.